Free Markets, Free People

Three examples of government intrusion where it has no business

Yes, just three.  You’re right, I could probably make it 30 or 300.  3,000 even!  But for brevity sake, three current examples where government has no business yet feels somehow justified in intruding or regulating in a manner that limits freedom.

First is an example of excessive regulation which in reality is an example of crony capitalism, where a regulation or mandatory licensing creates a state enforced bar to entry into an industry.

Louisiana has a plethora of such laws which regulate or license all sorts of things that few of the other states do.  An example?  The manufacture of caskets is illegal unless, well, you read it:

Brown, a soft-spoken man who is only the fifth leader of a monastery that dates to 1889, said he had not known that in Louisiana only licensed funeral directors are allowed to sell “funeral merchandise.”

That means that St. Joseph Abbey must either give up the casket-selling business or become a licensed funeral establishment, which would require a layout parlor for 30 people, a display area for the coffins, the employment of a licensed funeral director and an embalming room.

“Really,” Brown said. “It’s just a big box.”

Indeed it is.  And buyers should have a choice as to whether to buy it or some other casket.  They likely could pick up the Abbey’s “big box” for much less than it might cost to buy a similar casket in a "licensed funeral director’s” place given the required overhead that the regulatory mandate places on such entities.

In effect, the mandate acts as a high bar to entry.  It is likely the existing funeral industry in LA helped write the law.  That’s called “crony capitalism”.  The Abbey simply provides the illustration of the result.  If freedom equals choice, LA is in the choice limiting business with regulatory and licensing regime like this.

Some good news on that front:

The monks won round one in July, when U.S. District Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. ruled Louisiana’s restrictions unconstitutional, saying “the sole reason for these laws is the economic protection of the funeral industry.”

As you might imagine, the other side is not happy.  So is it the state that is appealing?  Well not the state, exactly:

The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors, which has argued that the law protects consumers, has appealed, and the circuit court in New Orleans will hear the case in early June.

That’s right … the protected want to continue to have their state protected industry … protected.  Good lord, if consumers have real choice, well, they might not buy the crony capitalist’s overpriced “funeral merchandise”.

And, of course, that state isn’t the only one with choice limiters working to cut down on your freedom.  Our next two examples come from the state of New York.  I know, shocking.

Case one – Mayor Bloomberg of NYC has decided that you fat folks just shouldn’t have the right to decide (there’s that choice thing again) on the size of “sugary drink” you can buy.

New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.

The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid  ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in City Hall’s sprawling Governor’s Room.

“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

Nanny Bloomberg assumes New Yorkers need a mommy.  That they’re fat because of their diet of sugary drinks of a certain size. He’s sure if he limits you to 16 fluid ounces of such belly wash they’ll slim right down.   Nanny Bloomberg also assumes that the public wants him to intrude into every deli, fast-food franchise, food cart and sports arena to save them from themselves.

Because that’s a nanny’s job – limit choice.  Limit freedom.  All for the common good, of course.  (added: here’s a distant cousin’s view – “Sixteen Ounces of Bull”.  Amen, cuz).

Case 2?  Well it seems a couple of state legislators in NY want to outlaw anonymous posting on the internet.  A couple of Republicans, by the way.

New York State Senator Thomas O’Mara recently proposed legislation that would ban anonymous postings on websites in his state.  The bill requires citizens posting on any blog, social network, message board or other forum, to turn over their full names, home addresses and IP address to web site administrators for public posting.  Supposedly it is being pushed as an “anti-bullying” step.

His cohort in this nonsense, however, reveals the real purpose.  State Assemblyman Jim Conte released a statement saying:

…the legislation will help cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate and merely seek to falsely tarnish the opponent’s reputation by using the anonymity of the Web. By removing these posts, this bill will help to ensure that there is more accurate information available to voters on their prospective candidates, giving them a better assessment of the candidates they have to choose from.

Or, the “let’s limit free speech to protect politician’s reputations” bill.

As the Center for Competitive Politics points out:

Anonymous speech has played a part in our political process since the very founding of our nation.  Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison wrote the Federalist Papers, which where primarily targeting voters in New York, under various pseudonyms.  The Supreme Court upheld this precedent in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, noting:

“[u]nder our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995)


“But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.” McIntyre, 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995)

Everyday in just about every way, our freedoms are under assault at all levels of government in this country.  I spend a lot of time recording those at a federal level.  But just as pernicious and certainly just as dangerous are those at local and state levels. 

The cumulative result is we live in a much less free society than we did 100 years ago.  50 years ago.  in fact, 20 years ago.

These three examples can indeed be multiplied by hundreds if not thousands.  They are fairly common unfortunately.  They cost a lot to enforce.  They’re unnecessary.  Most important though,  in each case they limit choice and thereby freedom.

Frog.  Pot. Rising heat.

Time to start getting serious about turning off the freedom limiting burner.


Twitter: @McQandO

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18 Responses to Three examples of government intrusion where it has no business

  • Far out, Judge Duval!  Is there something about the Napoleonic Code that has fostered that kind of regulation in LA?  Or was it the out-growth of the Progressive Era there?  Or is it something from French culture (they were big on mercantilism, which was the legendary well-spring of the Laissez-faire urge)
    Nanny Bloomers can eat my shorts.  Keep it up, and New York will continue to depopulate.  I smoke cigars and exercise by civil right to self-defense.  Ergo, I look for OTHER places to enjoy when traveling.
    I get the sincere urge (assuming it is sincere) for less crazy-nasty on the interwebs.  THE way to get that is by culture (i.e., breeding, social pressure, training, etc.).  You cannot get it by mandate, or even by stripping people of their anonymity.

  • Brett kimberlin shows that there is still a new to be able to post anonymously on the net. As for Nanny Bloomberg, I have no doubt that while my choice of drink size will be limited, he will continue to enjoy whatever he wants. Hes the classic do as I say not as I do hypocrite

  • I don’t get Bloomberg.  So he limits the size to 16 oz.  So nothing is stoping me from buying multiple 16 oz containers.  Is his end goal to completely outlaw sugary drinks?

    • but what exactly is a “sugary drink”  … by calories, this would outlaw a magnum of champagne.

    • Is his end goal to completely outlaw sugary drinks?

      >>> BINGO

      I say it again – John Carpenter was a visionary:

      Malloy: The United States is a non-smoking nation! No smoking, no drugs, no alcohol, no women – unless you’re married – no foul language, no red meat!

      I have zero doubt that nanny Bloomberg would be quite happy with that. Tell you what, if anyone ever comes across him eating or drinking something unhealthy, they should slap it out of his girly little hands. Fair is fair.

  • Yeah.  Let’s do away with all professional licensing.  No more checking the credentials of doctor—just let anybody practice.  No more licensed contractor—let them do whatever they want.  Etc., etc., etc….

    • Well, stupid, in MANY areas CERTIFICATION SHOULD replace licensing.
      But nice little bundle of fallacies…!!

    • Let’s do away with all professional licensing.

      No, let’s do away with all government mandated professional licensing.
      As a consumer, I don’t want a doctor who isn’t qualified, so I will choose for my own self-interest to see a doctor with proper training.
      If I want an interior decorator or coffin maker, I could care less if they payed some tax to some bureaucrat for a piece of paper.
      Got it?

  • I hope everyone realizes  that it is not just one party doing this damage to our freedom. They’re all doing it to us. Politicians today are scum, along with the lobbyist that pay them.

  • It’s not a thread without a Tad strawman! Thanks, now go away

  • SWATting shows what can happen when you are open about who you are when blogging or maybe even commenting.  Our so called 3 Amigos in our county government control the board of commissioners and they are practicing cronyism on boards to increase their power.  They are anti-development (and run as Republicans) and are aligned with our local radical environmental groups.  I am a board member on the county TEA Party thus me and other board members publicly speak against them and thus are being attacked with lies in a county blog and sometimes in public meetings.  They of course use pseudonyms to attack us on the blog.  That is the down side of the SCOTUS decision.